Flower power

The display of blossom this year has been spectacular, after the hard winter. We don’t use the early spring blossom to make remedies; just looking at them is good for our spirits. At this time of year, it’s the less showy flowers, the ground-hugging ones like primroses, violets and cowslips, that have hidden virtues to offer. Their petals contain generous amounts of mucilage, a silky, slippery substance that helps protect them from freezing. Make a tincture or a syrup from these petals, and you will have a valuable cough remedy for the latest round of sore throats and chesty coughs that we all seem to have been afflicted with lately.

They make a pleasant-tasting tea as well, especially the scented flowers like sweet violet. Don’t pick them in the wild, though; they need our protection. A handful of flower-heads from the garden will make a pot of tea, and the infusion can be kept for up to 24 hours in the fridge, though it’s best drunk hot and fresh, preferably while soaking up some sunshine too.

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